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ח (Khet)

Now their appearance[a] is darker than soot;
they are not recognized in the streets.
Their skin has shriveled on their bones;
it is dried up, like tree bark.

ט (Tet)

Those who die by the sword[b] are better off
than those who die of hunger,[c]
those who[d] waste away,[e]
struck down[f] from lack of[g] food.[h]

י (Yod)

10 The hands of tenderhearted women[i]
cooked their own children,
who became their food,[j]
when my people[k] were destroyed.[l]

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  1. Lamentations 4:8 tn Heb “their outline” or “their form.” The Hebrew noun תֹּאַר (toʾar, “outline, form”) is related to the Phoenician noun תֹּאַר (toʾar, “something gazed at”) and the Aramaic verb תָּאַר (taʾar, “to gaze at”). It is used in reference to the forms of a woman (Gen 29:17; Deut 21:11; 1 Sam 25:3; Esth 2:7) and a man (Gen 39:11; Judg 8:18; 1 Sam 16:18; 28:14; 1 Kgs 1:6; 1 Chr 17:17; Isa 52:14; 53:2). Here it occurs in a metonymical sense: “appearance.”
  2. Lamentations 4:9 tn Heb “those pierced of the sword.” The genitive-construct denotes instrumentality: “those pierced by the sword” (חַלְלֵי־חֶרֶב, khalele kherev). The noun חָלָל (khalal) refers to a “fatal wound” and is used substantivally to refer to “the slain” (Num 19:18; 31:8, 19; 1 Sam 17:52; 2 Sam 23:8, 18; 1 Chr 11:11, 20; Isa 22:2; 66:16; Jer 14:18; 25:33; 51:49; Lam 4:9; Ezek 6:7; 30:11; 31:17, 18; 32:20; Zeph 2:12).
  3. Lamentations 4:9 tn Heb “those slain of hunger.” The genitive-construct denotes instrumentality: “those slain by hunger,” that is, those who are dying of hunger.
  4. Lamentations 4:9 tn Heb “who…” The antecedent of the relative pronoun שֶׁהֵם (shehem, “who”) are those dying of hunger in the previous line: מֵחַלְלֵי רָעָב (mekhalele raʿav, “those slain of hunger”).
  5. Lamentations 4:9 tn Heb “they flow away.” The verb זוּב (zuv, “to flow, gush”) is used figuratively here, meaning “to pine away” or “to waste away” from hunger. See also the next note.
  6. Lamentations 4:9 tn Heb “pierced through and through.” The term מְדֻקָּרִים (meduqqarim), Pual participle masculine plural from דָּקַר (daqar, “to pierce”), is used figuratively. The verb דָּקַר (daqar, “to pierce”) usually refers to a fatal wound inflicted by a sword or spear (Num 25:8; Judg 9:54; 1 Sam 31:4; 1 Chr 10:4; Isa 13:15; Jer 37:10; 51:4; Zech 12:10; 13:3). Here, it describes people dying from hunger. This is an example of hypocatastasis: an implied comparison between warriors being fatally pierced by sword and spear and the piercing pangs of hunger and starvation. Alternatively, one could translate, “those who hemorrhage (זוּב [zuv, “flow, gush”]) [are better off] than those pierced by lack of food,” in parallel to the structure of the first line.
  7. Lamentations 4:9 tn The preposition מִן (min, “from”) denotes deprivation: “from lack of” something (BDB 580 s.v. 2.f; HALOT 598 s.v. 6).
  8. Lamentations 4:9 tn Heb “produce of the field.”
  9. Lamentations 4:10 tn Heb “the hands of compassionate women.”
  10. Lamentations 4:10 tn Heb “eating.” The infinitive construct (from I בָּרָה, barah) is translated as a noun. Three passages employ the verb (2 Sam 3:35; 12:17; 13:5, 6, 10) for eating when one is ill or in mourning.
  11. Lamentations 4:10 tn Heb “the daughter of my people.”
  12. Lamentations 4:10 tn Heb “in the destruction of the daughter of my people.”

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